CMS Releases Guide on Quality of Care at Nursing Homes in Six States
CMS yesterday released a guide on the quality of care at more than 2,500 nursing homes in six states -- Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington -- as part of a pilot program to allow patients to compare the performance of the facilities, the New York Times reports. The guide rates nursing homes on nine quality measures -- six for chronic care patients and three for post-acute care patients -- such as their treatment of pain and infection, whether they use physical restraints on patients, whether patients have lost an inappropriate amount of weight and the proportion of patients who have bedsores. CMS based the information on reports that nursing homes must submit to the agency to participate in Medicare and Medicaid (Pear, New York Times, 4/25). Patients can use the information to compare facilities with each other and with state averages (Carroll/Wysocki, Wall Street Journal, 4/25). Patients can view the guide online at www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/home.asp or call 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE) to receive the information (Riskind/Pyle, Columbus Dispatch, 4/25). CMS also published advertisements today in 30 newspapers in the six states that include some of the information (HHS release, 4/24). "We're trying to stoke a public debate about this and give patients better information," CMS Administrator Thomas Scully said (McCaffrey, Washington Post, 4/25). HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson added, "We are empowering consumers with information on how to get the best care possible for their loved ones. We are empowering the industry on how to ... provide better care" (Nohlgren, St. Petersburg Times, 4/25). CMS plans to expand the pilot program this year to cover nursing homes nationwide and may release a similar guide for hospitals and other health care providers in the future (Sugg/Salganik, Baltimore Sun, 4/25).
AARP President Tess Canja said that the guide "raises the bar for what the public should expect from nursing homes and what nursing homes should deliver" (Powell, Akron Beacon Journal, 4/25). According to William Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, which represents not-for-profit nursing homes, "If substandard nursing homes don't improve, public pressure will drive them out of business." Mary Ousley, chair of the American Health Care Association, a nursing home trade group, added that the guide will help facilities "identify opportunities for improvement." However, some health care experts and nursing home owners said that the information in the nursing home guide "could be confusing." Dr. Andrew Kramer, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado who advised CMS on the guide, said, "The current information is not adequately adjusted for differences in the health of individuals admitted to nursing homes. Therefore, the data could be misleading. They could make good homes look bad, and vice versa." Irene Fleshner, senior vice president of Genesis Health Ventures Inc., a national nursing home chain, added that the guide does not "adequately portray the quality of care" (New York Times, 4/25). Dr. Jeffrey Kang, chief clinical officer at CMS, said that the agency adjusted the information in the guide to account for differences in the health of patients admitted to nursing homes (Johnson, Spokane Spokesman-Review, 4/25). Scully added that patients should visit nursing homes and view state inspection reports to determine the quality of care at the facilities and "shouldn't solely rely on the information" in the guide (Wall Street Journal, 4/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.